The capital of Iceland is much more than beautiful nature. Founded in the 9th century by a Norwegian Viking, Reykjavik also offers an alternative culture, unusual cuisine and long days in the summer season that will allow you to get to know the city in and out.
It is best to start your visit to the capital of Iceland from a small lake in the city centre – Tjörnin. In summer, it is a great place to relax by the water, while in winter the lake is often covered with a thick layer of ice, which is why residents like to skate there or simply travel to the other side. In the vicinity of the lake, there is a postmodern building of the town hall, which is also the seat of the president, where cultural events are often held. Nearby, you can find the National Museum of Iceland, whose exhibits remember the times of the Vikings.
CLOSER TO THE STARS
A place particularly liked by visitors is the Perlan Planetarium. Equally popular are a passage through an ice cave, as well as a vantage point from which you can enjoy a beautiful view of the entire peninsula. In order to admire the city from above, you should go to the bell tower of the 73 meter-high Hallgrímskirkja church, which is the second largest building in Iceland. Its construction caused a lot of controversy, and residents argued about its design for many years. Nevertheless, the church, along with is breathtaking view form its tower, has become the symbol of Reykjavik.
ART AND CINEMA
Although a walk along the shopping street of Laugavegur is undoubtedly a pleasant experience, much more interesting goods can be found at Kolaportið, the local flea market open at weekends, which is located in an industrial area in the close vicinity of the old port. You can find there almost everything – from hand-made products, through antiques to second hand clothes and books. While strolling around Reykjavik, you will also encounter original and interesting murals. The fact that this small city is rich in street art may come as a surprise for many tourists. Murals can be found not only on walls, as Icelanders decorate also stairs and pavements, which in combination with characteristic, colourful houses creates an extraordinary effect. Moreover, the capital is famous for film festivals. One of the largest is the Reykjavik International Film Festival, which usually takes place in September or October. The festival is an excellent opportunity not only to see the latest film productions, but also to meet talented film makers.
HOT DOGS, LOBSTERS AND LAMB
It may come as a surprise, but a dish recommended and adored by the inhabitants of the capital is … fast food. However, not the one served in the world-famous chains, as the only McDonald restaurant was closed in Reykjavik in 2008. Icelanders love locally made hot dogs. What distinguishes them is that they are made from lamb. You can try them in many places in the city, but the most famous place is a run-of-the-mill, inconspicuous stall near the port called “Bæjarins bestu”, which means “the best in the city”. Regardless of the weather, you can see long queues in front of it. No wonder, as Bill Clinton and James Hetfield, Metallica’s frontman, were delighted with these hot dogs. Another dish worth trying is seafood. You can eat popular fish&chips, although worth recommending is also lobster goulash. The menus of Icelandic restaurants often include lamb stew served in bread, like Polish sour rye soup. And what for dessert? Kókosbollur, i.e. coconut marshmallows, enjoy immense popularity. Their name does not fully reflect their character – it is a meringue filling covered with a thin layer of chocolate and coconut flakes. If you are looking for something with less calories, try skyr – a well-known milk delicacy.
WONDERS OF NATURE
There is no denying that it is the extraordinary nature that attracts most travellers to Iceland. In Reykjavik, you can observe the northern lights, however not as often as in the north of the country. It is best to see them from vantage points on the outskirts of the city. From the centre, you can easily get to the beaches of the Seltjarnarnes peninsula or the stone coast of Hafnarfjörður. The surroundings of Reykjavik are occupied by beautiful forests, and in just over half an hour’s drive, you can reach Tröllafoss which is famous for its impressive waterfalls. Iceland is also known for its large population of puffins. For a little over 40 euros you can rent a boat that will take you to the islands of Lundey or Akurey. However, birds and their nests can be admired only from the deck – the islands are not inhabited, and thus provide good living conditions for puffins.